This post is part of 30 Ways in 30 days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World. This series seeks to give you the practical, real world steps you need to take to get from wherever you are, to exactly where you want to be– traveling the world and living the lifestyle you want.
If you’re thinking of ways to travel the world, you might have wondered: how do you go from planning to actually making it happen? What’s crucial step from wanting to travel to suddenly just doing it?
Only 2 years ago, I didn’t know. I would study travel blogs, trying to fit how their steps into my own circumstances. I’d re-read “How it feels” posts trying to find some clues as to what it is really like to give up everything to travel and summon my own courage. I’d research residency visa requirements to countries that I’d like visit. I’d make budgets, dream itineraries, research flight costs– important research but it can’t go on forever.
Eventually, I just made the decision to go– honestly committing myself to redesigning my life and traveling in the next six months– a simple but difficult step. I had set a date. Finally making the decision changed everything.
Here’s your test: When are you leaving?
If you have a date, congrats, you are well on your way. Sure there are lots of details to work out, but you’ve already completed the hardest part: the first step.
For those of you who don’t have a date, here’s where it gets tricky. When does research to make sure it’s possible, become a roadblock in and of itself? If you’re not careful the problem becomes:
- You can’t take the leap until you’re sure it will work out
- You won’t know until you take the leap
In other words, anyone that waits for a guarantee, waits forever. It’s not coming.
Today, I’m asking everyone to take a small step with me and change their expectations from finding what will definitely work to probably will.
Yes, there is inherent risk in redesigning your life and traveling the world. But I’d also caution that there is inherent risk in everything that we do. Buying a house is placing a bet that you won’t be laid off or the market won’t crash, leaving you 25% underwater on your mortgage. Taking a job is placing your short term financial future in the hands of an employer that you don’t know very well. Placing your money in retirement accounts is a statement that you feel pretty confident that you won’t need that money this week to survive. But how do you really know?
The answer: we never know.
I’m not asking anyone to put their financial future, careers, spouse, children or pets at undue risk. Rather that you change your thinking as you research your options, from looking for the “absolutely, fails-safe, must work” to “reasonable to assume, others have done it” as your trigger to take the plunge. The same as you would for anything in your life.
Then you must set a date.
Breaking your own rules
The second step is to become a diligent rule breaker. Every time you say to yourself, “I can’t do that, because…” I want you to ask yourself why. For example:
- I have a dog and I can’t bring it with me and I can’t leave it behind
- I can’t travel with my kids
- I know everyone says this, but I really can’t save any money
There are people who travel with their pets, take their kids abroad and make an art form out of living cheaply to save for travel. So why can’t you? Why have you set that rule? When you set a rule for yourself, you’ve just changed a problem into a deal breaker. Unless someone alters the space-time continuum and makes it possible to neither bring nor leave your pet at the same time as you travel, you’re effectively closed the door. Problems we can deal with. Huge amounts of debt? Empty savings account? No ideas of where to start? All fixable. Breaking the laws of physics? Not so much.
The goal is to not live by rules you’ve inadvertently set for yourself. Instead of pre-emptively deciding that it’s impossible, release yourself from controlling the outcome and try to get to the core of your concern. For example:
- How can I ensure my dog is comfortable and happy when we travel together?
- How can I travel with my kids and stay sane, afford it and maintain their schooling?
- What are some ways I can raise the cash to travel?
After you answer these questions, you may decide that the trade offs aren’t worth it. But it will be an informed decision. You will make the choice, not your initial fear/reluctance/negativity.
1. Write down every item that is preventing you from traveling right now. As we go through this month, we will be (hopefully) crossing those items out. This is your to-do list.
2. Go through your list. Have you created any impossible barriers? Have you set an impossible rule for yourself? Try re-wording the problem in a way that addresses your core concern without jumping to conclusions about the outcome.
3. Start thinking about a date. If you’re not ready yet, that’s okay, but you might set a soft date based on the items on list #1, based on how your estimate to address each item. As you go through the month, adjust the date as you get closer to working out all of your details.
4. All month: Keep me honest! If you need more information on any topic, as we cover them, let me know in the comments. I try to anticipate as many different scenarios as possible, but if I’m not addressing yours, contact me. You can also email me privately at email@example.com
An Introduction (making the decision)